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Cam & Suz’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 08 Feb 2005

Location: San Cristobal-Antigua, Guatemala

MapAfter a solid 12 hour bus trip from Patchutla, we arrived in San Cristobal. The guide book had given it a good wrap, so once we settled into our hostal we headed out to explore an indigenous village 10km out of town. All the village people had traditional dress on, very colourful. They still lived so primitively.
We met some cool travellers in the hostal and we all went to a mad mexican house warming. Some mexicans were playing the bongos and performing some crazy dance moves. It seems as though all mexicans smoke joints all the time!
From San Cristobal, we got the bus to Agua Azul - really beautiful waterfalls. We walked upstream and found a great camp spot right on the river. Met an old mexican traveller who joined us in our daily exercise routine, ie see photos..
From Agua Azul we travelled to El Panchan (near Palenque). We camped right in the jungle (real jungle) for a couple of nights. Loads of mosquitos and howler monkeys made it a little interesting. A real jungle experience! Saw the Palenque ruins (one of the dominant Mayan cities approx 500-900AD).
Got a very early bus (5am) to the Mexican / Guatemalan border, hopped into a boat and went upstream to Guatemala. Boarded another very old rusty bus for a hell 3 and a half hour rocky, dusty bus trip to Flores near Tikal riuns. Tikal ruins are just amazing, set deep in the jungle - absolutely huge! Only discovered in the last 50 years. The ruins are the most famous in Central America. The ruins tower above the jungle canopy.
Another long bus ride to Antigua which nearly killed us (crazy Guatemalan bus driver)!! A very harrowing experience. Antigua is just gorgeous. We remember seeing it on Getaway about 6 months ago. It is surrounded by 3 massive volcanoes, one of which is still active. After finding a hotel and organising our spanish lessons for the week, we decided to climb one the next day. The guide book suggested not to do it on our own (safety reasons as there are a lot of bandits) but we thought we could outrun any trouble!
Got up at 5am for the chicken bus to take us to the base of the volcano at 2000m. Registered with the police but they decided to escort us to the start of the trail on the the outskirts of town. Hiked up the volcano all morning... (ascent of 1700m). Very steep and dusty climb. Certainly the hardest one day climb we have ever done. The altitude (3766m) and heat really took their toll. Our legs felt like lead towards the top. But oh.... the view from the top was stunning! We could see the mountains in El Salvador and Mexico. Both over 250km away. We were completely stuffed by the time we reached the village at base of the volcano at 5pm. Cam decided it would be a good idea to ride back to Antigua on the roof of the chicken bus, so we snuck onto the roof. What a crazy experience that was! We both clung on for our dear life. We certainly slept well that night.
We have now started our spanish lessons and are living with a Guatemalan family for the next week. Our spanish is improving. Have even started salsa lessons!